5Q'S BRITTANY BROWN, PROJECT BEAUTY EXPO: A Q&A BETWEEN TWO WOMEN WHO'VE STARTED THEIR OWN BUSINESS
I first met Brittany Brown through email. The beauty boss emailed me to invite me to her inaugural Project Beauty Expo event in Washington D.C. I was working on fumes and unable to attend but honored she asked me. I felt heartbreak when I saw the images and reviews online. Brittany was gracious enough to invite me for the second year's even in Manhattan, even better it was blocks away from my apartment in Chelsea! I have never been more excited to attend an event and you should jump at the chance to attend if you can. The room was filled with warm energy, filled with love and unconditional support from a community of women dedicated to uplifting a beauty category that is virtually ignored by the vast beauty community. Year three would be even bigger! I was so excited to see that Brittany's baby had grown up and was being acknowledge by the industry's bible, WWD! Without further delay, I present you ... Brittany Brown.
1. Looking back on your first job, what skill did you use that you still use today?
This wasn’t my first job but this was the job that shaped my skill set and mindset that helps me to be successful within my business. I was working as a Leasing Consultant at a Property Management company in Baltimore. During my time there, I was responsible for acquiring new residents for the community. They would encourage us to find “The Next 10 Year Resident”. It pretty much was all ALE! I would receive a commission on the residents I secured and as someone who was fresh out of college and needed funds this was GOLDEN! In order to be successful in this line of work I needed to have great customer service skills, troubleshoot and quickly find solutions as well as build a rapport with my residents.
While honing in on my skills, we were required to read a book called Go for No by Richard Fenton. I learned so much from this book and still recommend to anyone who is in business. What some people don’t understand is that you can have awesome packaging, great branding, story, price etc. but if you don’t know how to sell your product/service and teach others how to do the same it’s not going to help you grow.
The book basically states that when you are in a sales environment or in any business and you are trying to reach a certain goal when we get close to that goal we tend to slow down and slack. This can result in you not hitting your goal or not exceeding beyond that goal. However, if you focus on the number of No’s instead of Yes’s you obtain this will ensure that you will not only meet your goal and but exceed beyond your goal. For example, if you are exhibiting at PBE or any other marketplace and you change your goal from selling 25 moisturizers to I want 70 people to tell me No and not purchase from me. If the first 10 people you encounter purchase from you that you are nowhere near your goal vs. trying to sell 25 moisturizers and feeling like you are halfway there. Sales and business is all about mindset and understanding how you work and perform. Sometimes we have to alter our mindset and way of thinking to truly excel beyond what we think we can do.
2. Was there a defining moment that made you start your business?
Definitely! I started my business because when I created my skincare line I didn’t see many women like me in the industry. Natural beauty was starting to catch on but when brands were being recognized I didn’t see many women of color represented. I thought to myself that I could not be the only person out here trying to create a luxury skincare line for women of color. There had to be others. One year I went to about 2 expos and saw like 3 women of color owned brands. I said ok well I am going to create a platform that recognizes POC brands with an elevated feel and is affordable. Hence PBE was born.
3. What was the first step that you took to start your business?
The first step I took was defining my mission and how I wanted people to perceive my platform. I was putting a fresh look on a pre-existing model that some people didn’t understand initially. I wanted to be sure my goals could be easily understood and explained to the brands we planned to service and our future community. I think we’ve done a good job thus far explaining our future plans. However, this is always a work in progress when growing and exploring new ideas because you don’t want to deviate from why people originally follow your brand in the first place.
4. What is the greatest lesson you learned your first year in business?
I’ve learned so many lessons throughout this journey but I can say that the biggest lesson I learned is that I cannot do everything by myself. I can very much be the person who will try to do everything myself. This has done nothing but leave me feeling anxious, making mistakes and losing money. I approached things with the mindset of I can’t afford staff or outside people helping me because I am a startup but in actuality if I had the proper team in place and entrusted people to handle certain tasks without me being present I could have accomplished a lot more.
5. What is your best piece of advice for your fellow Female Founder?
The best piece of advice I could give another Founder is to give yourself TIME. We are currently at a place where people want their business to pop off in the 1st or 2nd year of business. Everything worth having takes time and you are currently sowing the seeds that will soon blossom. Once your seed blossoms you will have to water and maintain if you want to keep this business alive. I am no expert I am still learning how to be patient with myself. Don’t feel like you need to rush and create a business because you think someone is going to do it first. People will always remember who does things well and how you make them feel. Whether you did it first is irrelevant. It’s how you execute and perform is what will keep them coming back!